RE: Re: Certification: Ernest and Scribbler

Subject: RE: Re: Certification: Ernest and Scribbler
From: "Pinkham, Jim" <Jim -dot- Pinkham -at- voith -dot- com>
To: "John Posada" <jposada99 -at- gmail -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 23 Jul 2010 09:02:42 -0500

Let me put it another way:

Certification might have some relevance to the first key question of
prospective employment: Do I understand the job? As you suggest, it
implies exposure to this Body of Knowledge that some have described as
an attempt in progress. "The Right Way" and "how any professional writer
handles situations at work" are incredibly broad realms to encompass,
though, given the diversity of our profession. Certainly, trying to
create a believable, useful certification, in this light, is ambitious.
For discussion's sake, let's assume it could be done. Still, at it's
best, certification would be only one possible tool for determining
whether a candidate understands a job.

If the candidate is certified, will the certificate tell me that person
can do the job I have in mind? It might give me an inkling and some
cause for hope, but it's no guarantor. And, as I noted at the first,
it's certainly no assurance that the candidate can do the job as the
employer desires it be done. Or that the candidate can do the work
profitably for the enterprise.

I share the concerns of those who've intimated certification could
insert an unwonted and unwanted stumblingblock in the path of competent,
qualified people seeking work. And of those who suspect it could give
false confidence to some prospective employers to conclude that a
certified person would naturally be right and best for their needs and

So, I, too, hope it would not pave a path for idiots. Or dredge a moat
that keeps out otherwise capable people who choose, for whatever reason,
not to go down the certification road.

After some reflection, I suspect what I was responding to yesterday is
the sense that at least some in the proponent camp have higher hopes for
what certification could, would, or should do than appears warranted. As
one data point, but not a sine qua non, to weigh in a hiring decision,
it might have some utility. Ascribing more weight to it than that,
however, seems unwise.

-----Original Message-----
From: John Posada [mailto:jposada99 -at- gmail -dot- com]
Sent: Thursday, July 22, 2010 5:24 PM
To: Pinkham, Jim
Cc: Bill Swallow; Gene Kim-Eng; techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com;
stevefjong -at- comcast -dot- net
Subject: Re: Re: Certification: Ernest and Scribbler

On Thu, Jul 22, 2010 at 5:23 PM, Pinkham, Jim <Jim -dot- Pinkham -at- voith -dot- com>
> <snip>It doesn't mean that the correct way isn't still all 10 steps.
> It means I know what the steps are and I can say "OK, Boss, I'll skip
> 3, 6, and 7, but remember, you hired me for what I know and I know
> that step 9 cannot be missed...let's find some other place we can trim

> some resources." </snip>
> ***********************
> I have a hard time envisioning a certification process that would be a

> very good predictor of such an astute response.

I guess, thanks :-)

However, that answer has nothing to do with certification...cerification
isn't supposed to test if you have a pair. It's how any professional
writer handles situations at work on a regular basis.

OTOH, all the certification process wants to know is "Do you know the
right way", and it will if part of each "multi-choice" set of questions
comes with where you write the Why of your choice of answers.

> If I were to consider hiring you, and in the process make the
> determination that the answer to that question was no, then I don't
> care what certificate you have.

First, the hiring person, unless they are a certified writer themself,
isn't going to know the questions or how you answered them, I trust the
certifying body, not that you answered the question the same as I
would...besides, I don't know the answers...that's why I'm hiring you.

Second, nobody hires someone with the intention that they aren't going
to want it done the right way. If I hire you, I want to know all that
you know all the cool-kid methodologies...I heard of Info Mapping...I
don't know what it is and for all I know, it's an option on Mapquest...I
don't care, but I want to know that YOU know something about it because
I heard it at a business meeting once and it sounded cool...not
everything about it, but more than "Huh?

Doing it different than the right way comes through dealine pressure,
resource shortages, and because of any number of other factors. How the
writer handles it will come out at the interview...just like it normally
does now.

I hope nobody thinks that intent of certification is going to be to get
you the job if you are an idiot...that's not what I see it for.

I see it for:

- Giving me a roadmap of what I should know to be a good, all-around,
well-rounded professional technical writer.
- Give hiring people the comfort that when they hire a writer, they
aren't just going to be good writers on what I'm hiring them to be doing
now, but as the scope of the job evolves and that if "THE EMERGENCY"
thing happens or the CEO wakes up one morning and says "CMS's FOR
EVERYONE", the writer isn't going to fold like a house of cards. I'm
hiring the certified writer not for what I know, but for what I DON'T
know....I want depth and understanding, not knowledge by rote or by

Think maybe some drilling companies might be sleeping just a tiny little
bit better if they know that their documentation was prepared by someone
who knows what they are doing?

John Posada
Senior Technical Writer

Gain access to everything you need to create and publish information
through multiple channels. Your choice of authoring (and import)
formats with virtually any output. Try Doc-To-Help free for 30-days.

LavaCon 2010 in San Diego Sept 29&#8211;Oct 2 is now open for registration.
Use referral code TECHWR-L for $50 off conference tuition!
See program at:

You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as archive -at- web -dot- techwr-l -dot- com -dot-

To unsubscribe send a blank email to
techwr-l-unsubscribe -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
or visit

To subscribe, send a blank email to techwr-l-join -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com

Send administrative questions to admin -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.

Please move off-topic discussions to the Chat list, at:


RE: Re: Certification: Ernest and Scribbler: From: Gene Kim-Eng
Re: Re: Certification: Ernest and Scribbler: From: John Posada
Re: Re: Certification: Ernest and Scribbler: From: Bill Swallow
Re: Re: Certification: Ernest and Scribbler: From: John Posada
RE: Re: Certification: Ernest and Scribbler: From: Pinkham, Jim
Re: Re: Certification: Ernest and Scribbler: From: John Posada

Previous by Author: RE: Re: Certification: Ernest and Scribbler
Next by Author: RE: Best CD/DVD Labelling Method
Previous by Thread: Re: Re: Certification: Ernest and Scribbler
Next by Thread: RE: Re: Certification: Ernest and Scribbler

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads